A classmate from college had dropped in with his wife and two children aged around twelve and ten. He seemed cheer personified and was glowing with happiness. In a bright tone, he couldn’t stop talking about his children and how they provided melody to his routine. When we got a few personal moments, he was very appreciative of his wife and said that she was a perfect companion and made all the difference to his life. That was at once satisfying and intriguing; satisfying as he had joy writ all over his face; intriguing as he had vowed in all earnestness to be a bachelor all his life when the flame of his life in college got married to someone else.
This reminded me of a Tamil movie where the morose hero and the glum heroine get married with long faces; the hero cold because he hasn’t been able to marry the girl of his choice from college and the heroine dull because she has been forced into this marriage. The next scene is a few years later when they have a cute kid and are shown as a merry, understanding, loving and almost perfect couple. Now, here was truth in my friend’s form comparable to this fiction. Neither was strange as time has a way of weaving its magic on people in its own inimitable way.
Even over a couple of decades, one sees so much happening over time. Deft handling of risks matures over time to rewards; records are created, shattered and surpassed; challenges become achievements and glory at one end or bring disappointments and disgrace at the other. Some improve their lot with the wand of education and hard work passing privileges to the next generation; some lose out and get trampled over; the power and fortunes of families wax and wane; societies progress in some facets and decay in others with science, technology, art and literature playing their roles.
Time ushers transformation in the social, political, economic and cultural milieu, thereby defining the characteristics of the ‘time’ we live in. ‘Time’ was shown as the story-teller when the epic ‘Mahabharata’ was telecast two decades back. The classic couldn’t have had a better story-teller. ‘Time’ came across as an omniscient game changer. Borrowing poet Shelly’s imagery, one would wonder if people are just dead leaves withering or swift clouds flying or panting waves lashing under the impulse of time’s strength.
Time seems a unit of measurement for a variable; at the same time it seems a mute and willing spectator to what unfolds as destiny unravels itself. One is not sure if time is a choice-less implementer in the hands of a higher power or is itself the dispenser of natural justice keeping tabs on the ways of the world. Reflection on such existential questions may provide philosophical perspectives to have us safely anchored.
Pragmatically, the best way to deal with the dimension of ‘time’ in our lives is to ‘be in flow’. ‘Being in the moment’ is to ‘enter the flow’. Practising this wisdom would see us gaining spontaneity with style and handling uncertainty with ease. The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus’ observation that one could not step into the same river twice, has many connotations. When one continues in the flow and knows that the river is not the same, there is acknowledgement of impermanence and recognition of change.
Longfellow talks of “trusting no future, however pleasant, letting the dead past bury its dead and acting in the living present …….to act, that each tomorrow find us farther than today”. The prescription of “acting from being in the moment’’ is not very different from Buddha’s directive: “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” Of course, we cannot wish away the past and future with the sleight of hand. There again ‘flowing with hope’ helps. Hope plays out over ‘time’, helps and heals.
Time is a dimension that man hasn’t cracked as yet and probably, it is best left that way. Time is ‘medicine’ for the ‘past’ when it cures and restores. Time is ‘optimism’ for the ‘future’ when it nourishes and rejuvenates. Time is ‘energy’ for action in the present when it supports and reassures. Learning to enter the river and be in the flow is a blessing. Time would then weave its magic, drenching and leaving us with a spell-bound smile.
(The writer may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)